10 Tips for Keeping Employees Engaged
Retaining good employees is a never-ending challenge for all businesses, but it's especially crucial for small business owners and in-plants. At the SGIA Expo in Las Vegas, Brian Adam, president of Olympus Group, in Milwaukee, Wis., shared 10 essential, achievable tips for keeping employees engaged. His session was part of a half-day program called Essential Small Business Strategies, which featured action-oriented, thought-provoking presentations from a roster of business management experts.
In his 45-min. session, Adam explained the benefits of a committed workforce and gave real-world recommendations on how to keep dedicated employees from leaving.
"Engaged employees do better work," he insisted — and yet a third of today's employees are not engaged. To ensure his employees are, Adam's company takes deliberate steps to share information with them, inspire their involvement and reward their success.
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Adam shared his top 10 list of how to create an engaged workforce.
- Create a noble mission. Employees want to work for a company whose mission inspires them. Olympus Group's new mission statement, Adam said, is "to create a rewarding work environment for our employees." He wants them to love working there because they have built a great corporate culture.
- Articulate your culture. Explain to employees the culture you want. Adam sits with each new employee on his or her first day to explain what's important to the company, including the fact that "we're a team, not a family." A team rewards top performers and replaces mediocre ones. He makes it clear that the company values "responsible" employees who don't wait to be told what to do and who behave like they own the company.
- New employee orientations are crucial. Instead of piling new hires with paperwork and ignoring them, he makes sure a manager greets the employee at the door and takes him or her on a facility tour. The president meets with new employees and shares company history and culture information. The employee's desk and computer are set up and their business cards are already printed. And they are always taken out to lunch by coworkers on their first day.
- Create a suggestion program. At Olympus, each employee suggestion is in the running for a $40 cash reward, which inspires participation and increases engagement. Several suggestions have saved the company lots of money.
- Hold one-on-ones with employees. Adam meets with every employee, gets their feedback and asks questions to learn about their goals and motivations. He holds lunch meetings where they can sign up and talk with him about anything. "You're showing them you care and you're trying to give them a voice," he explained.
- Monday morning updates. He shares weekly updates on many company issues to keep employees updated and involved.
- Help employees set goals to give them a sense of accomplishment when they have completed them. Goals are posted in the Olympus cafeteria, he said, and employees can check them off once completed.
- Result presentations. He meets with all employees quarterly to tell them how the company is doing and where it is spending its profits. This increases their buy-in.
- Profit is not a dirty word. Adam shows employees how much the company actually makes from a typical job after paying for materials, labor, overhead and more. This opens their eyes to how thin the profit margins often are, and inspires them to work more efficiently.
- Make it personal. Olympus has a variety of reward programs, from scholarships to graduation gifts. Each employee's child gets a hand-written birthday card and $10 gift, a personal touch that employees find extremely inspiring.
"There's a lot of small things you can do that will have a significant impact on your employees," Adam concluded.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.